With the recent creation of a second sub-chapter, ASTA’s New England Chapter is setting a precedent for grassroots organization that other chapters covering a wide geographic area may wish to follow, said New England Chapter President Mike Spinelli, Jr. of Vacation.com. Spinelli said the new structure allows for enhanced communication at the local level and established a more effective system for affecting positive growth and chapter participation at the grassroots level.
The New England Chapter now includes the Connecticut and Maine sub-chapters, each with a full Board of Directors and separate treasury. It is the only ASTA chapter to be organized this way. Each sub-chapter will conduct its own state-based events, while providing members of the three Boards greater opportunities to meet and discuss the direction in which to take the chapter.
“This is the perfect solution for chapters who might find themselves struggling to draw members to attend chapter meetings, when in some cases those meetings are a four- or five-hour drive away,” said Spinelli. “As many of us are well aware, chapters share ideas on chapter management three times a year at the Chapter Presidents Council meeting. This re-organization will serve to this purpose on a day-to-day basis, as the three chapter and sub-chapter presidents will share positions on the other two Boards.”
"With the addition of Connecticut, we'll have three small chapters making one stronger New England Chapter," said Eric Ardolino of A&S Travel (Wallingford, CT) and a former Connecticut Chapter president.
“Maine has been a sub-chapter of New England ASTA for more than 20 years," said Cheryl Delisle of Sanford Travel. "The primary goal of Maine ASTA is promote the education and professionalism of the travel consultant and to provide networking opportunities for the Maine travel community. We do this with bi-monthly meetings, a yearly tradeshow, which is held the third Wednesday of October, and providing scholarships to our membership. We have a strong and active membership with close ties to our state and local government.“
Boston-based Ross Travel Consultant’s Irene Ross, a past president of New England ASTA and currently serving a second term on ASTA’s national Board of Directors, said: "With a single communication stream, members will be aware of all meetings and events that may be closer to their own offices allowing them the chance to interact with their chapter members on a regular basis and take an active role in determining the direction their chapter takes.”
"This is the fulfillment of a life-long dream," said Mike Spinelli, Sr., past president of both national ASTA and also the New England chapter. "The huge geographic size of most chapters has never allowed enough travel agents in multi-state chapters to be active and still be part of a chapter's strength. This was the cause, years ago for the formation of separate travel agent organizations in Rhode Island, Vermont and other states. This new ASTA format, where both Maine and Connecticut can retain autonomy, still allows them to share in the functioning of the much larger New England Chapter.”
The New England Chapter was established in 1932. It encompasses the Connecticut and Maine sub-chapters, as well as the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.